Day 20
Miles 19.5
From Big Bear to Holcombe creek
May 21, 2014

When J and I made it to breakfast at 7am we were the last up. Papa Smurf had already made eggs and sausage, biscuits, gravy, and potatoes. Everyone was eating companionably while the dogs looked hopeful.

No one else was heading out in the morning so Papa Smurf dropped just the two of us back at the trail. Before we left he asked if he could leave us with a prayer. “Of course,” I reply. After his blessing on our journey he bids us off. He puts his hand out to shake but I hug him instead. I find it almost strange, to find someone so generous. It’s like when someone is too happy – you try and figure what’s really behind it. I wonder again what it is about tired, dirty thru-hikers that inspires his concern. We’re so often wrapped up in our own stories, our sufferings, or happinesses, this saga we are building for ourselves. Life goes on without us.

And our story goes on too. J and I are on a schedule for this leg, which feels strange. We have three and a half days to make 60 miles so that J’s cousin can pick us up and take us to Wrightwood for a family weekend. I hear there are cabins with saunas. Wow.

In the meantime, we’ll be passing through Deep Creek, a hot springs area. Wow. But, if we want time to soak, we have to make the miles upfront. Time to walk.

The forest here is at the cusp of the high desert, junipers and scraggly pines. It’s still cold, highs in the 50s, but with blue skies for the morning. The trail is level and good walking – we might do twenty miles today after all.

The trail takes us west, across the northern side of the San Bernardino forest. The juniper have been replaced by pines and cedar now, and by pines and firs now. We catch peeks of the low desert valley awaiting us, then, later, of big bear lake. It’s very quiet out. There’s no breeze, and the birds are quiet. I hear an occasional plane and the sounds of my own footsteps.

Our long forest ramble takes us into a big burn area at the end of the day. Burn areas can be a bummer but they sure open up the view. There are hillsides of lupins, and we walk across limestone all day. No power walking today, just the ol’ two mph for a quiet walk in the woods. It’s nice to have a day with just me and J, and a forest of our own.

We earn the last mile – we always have to earn it. We tarp it up and snuggle up for a cold night – looks like a storm on the way.

I’ve got my eye on these clouds…

Forest trails

Long views through the burn

Lapis, coming around the bend


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